FBI: Lighting the Terrorist Fuse?

John Feffer
Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus
Posted: December 14, 2010 02:54 PM

Terrorist plots are suddenly everywhere. In Baltimore last week, a 21-year-old construction worker tried to blow up a military recruitment center. In late November, federal law enforcement officials arrested a Somalia-born teenager for plotting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. In October, a jury found the Newburgh Four guilty of planning to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx.

In all three cases, the major accomplice was not al-Qaeda or the Taliban. It was the FBI. The Bureau has been going undercover to lure terrorists out of their lairs. This should be reassuring. But U.S. counter-terrorism policy, both at home and abroad, suffers from a carrot-and-stick problem. The carrots that the FBI offers through its undercover operations suggest entrapment. The sticks that the Pentagon has wielded against Muslim lands have done much to encourage the proliferation of plotting on the home front, and yet Washington pretends otherwise.

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